Career Break

What Is a Career Break?

A career break is a period during which an individual voluntarily steps away from their professional career for a significant amount of time. Reasons for taking a career break can vary widely, including personal development, travel, study, health issues, family commitments, or pursuing a passion project. Unlike short-term leaves, such as vacation or sick leave, career breaks are longer, ranging from several months to years, and are not typically covered by standard employment policies.

Key Features of a Career Break

  • Voluntary Decision: Choosing to take a career break is usually a personal decision not dictated by employer policies.
  • Extended Duration: Career breaks last significantly longer than standard leave, often several months to years.
  • Diverse Reasons: Individuals take career breaks for various reasons, including personal growth, travel, study, or caregiving responsibilities.
  • Employment Gap: A career break creates a gap in professional employment history, which can influence future employment opportunities.

How Does a Career Break Work?

  1. Planning and Decision-Making: The individual decides on taking a career break, considering financial stability, timing, and personal goals.
  2. Notification: If currently employed, the individual discusses their plans with their employer to explore possibilities such as a sabbatical or unpaid leave arrangement.
  3. Transition: The individual prepares for the career break, transitioning responsibilities at work and planning for the break’s duration.
  4. During the Break: The individual pursues their planned activities, such as travel, study, or personal projects.
  5. Re-Entry: Towards the end of the career break, the individual prepares to re-enter the workforce, which may involve skill updates, networking, and job searching.

Best Practices for Managing a Career Break

  • Clear Objectives: Set clear goals for what you wish to achieve during the career break, whether it’s skill development, personal growth, or other objectives.
  • Financial Preparation: Ensure financial stability for the duration of the break, including a buffer for unexpected expenses.
  • Professional Networking: Maintain professional contacts and stay informed about industry trends to ease the re-entry process.
  • Skill Development: Use the time to acquire new skills or certifications that can enhance your employability upon return.
  • Documentation: Keep a record of activities and achievements during the break to share with future employers.


While a career break does create a gap in employment, it can also be seen positively if you can demonstrate personal growth, new skills, or accomplishments during the break.

Returning to your old job depends on the terms arranged with your employer before the break. Some employers may offer sabbatical leaves with the option to return.

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